Fainter alert: My day as a side-effect statistic

Well hello there. It’s been a while since the Archers debacle, so I thought I’d risk peeping my head over the parapet of the internet. For now it’s just a quick cartoon-post, but if I’m not pounced upon by hordes of trolls this time, I might just attempt to get back to some kind of regular posting schedule. Stay tuned. 

Today, I spontaneously decided to give blood for only the second time in my life. I know, I’m a hero, but let’s not go on about that – no, really, there’s no need to applaud. Honestly, it was nothing! All I did was donate a whole pint of my life’s blood for the good of my fellow human… Oh very well, you’re right, I am basically an incredible person.

Anyhow, the whole mildly unpleasant process went quite smoothly at first; I passed the various forms, interviews and tests, and got through the stabby needle bit without wincing too conspicuously. After fifteen minutes of lounging in my reclining chair as the creepy swaying blood-bag filled up (by the way, does anyone know why they rock back and forth like that?), I was starting to feel quite complacent.

Unfortunately, my body had other ideas, and shortly after I’d been sat down and given a biscuit, I came over all woozy. Just as I was just starting to wonder if I should inform someone that my head had become a lot heavier than usual and the room had shrunk to half its usual height, I was swooped upon by a very observant nurse.

With terrifying efficiency, the other people in the recovery area were unceremoniously displaced so that I could lie across their seats. Despite my protestations, I was then propped up with wedges and cold-packs, given copious amounts of orange squash, and quite literally fanned by one of the nurses. My attempts to leave were firmly quashed for the next half hour, during which time I began to feel like more of a damsel than a hero.

Given that I felt fine as soon as I lay down, this all seemed a bit unnecessary, but I suppose it’s good PR to ensure that people don’t keel over on their way out of the donor centre. However, I’m pleased to announce that my release into the wild has been successful, thanks, no doubt, to my dutiful observance of the instructions in my slightly patronising ‘Feeling faint’ leaflet. Jane Austen would be proud.

Scan 21 (1).jpg

On opting out: How to make life choices when you’re a professional ditherer

On Saturday, I put the final nail in the coffin of my plan to do a masters. You may not know that I’d applied for UCL’s Comparative Literature MA, got in and even found some (very partial) funding, but for a few months at the end of 2015, that was officially The Plan. Then, over the first half of this year, I gradually wobbled towards a change of heart. And just the other day I sent the email that made my declining of the offer official. Continue reading

Pub life: How I learned to love home

This post is mainly about the second of my three ex-jobs: bartending/waitressing at the Royal Arms. It’s one of those weird posts that was written in instalments over a period of great change – I started it last week, and since then, I’ve moved house, started a job, and become prime minister (spot the odd one out). That all entails a certain amount of inconsistency, but I’ll try and make it vaguely coherent.

On Friday I had my last shift at the Royal Arms before moving down south, and it felt like a little piece of my heart was painfully crumbling into sappy, nostalgic dust. To get the terrible clichés over with, my local is the sort of pub that has a fantastic sense of community spirit. There’s something about watching fifteen regulars standing around the bar and the fireplace, all chatting and laughing together, that warms the cockles of my cynical heart until I start unironically saying things like ‘community  spirit’. Playful banter and the odd bit of genuine hostility abound, of course, but everyone knows more or less everyone, and it’s clear that people will pull together when something goes wrong.  Continue reading

Working with your hands: A risk assessment

 As promised, here’s the final version of one of the many semi-posts that was languishing in my Notes app until recently. This is about one of the three jobs I’ve been doing in my sort-of gap yah, and why it’s the perfect counterbalance to Oxford; similar ideas are discussed in this post. The other two jobs, by the way, are bar-tending and tutoring, both of which I might write about later. 

Over the last six months and many summers, I have worked as a carpenter’s assistant and general dogsbody at Hollow Ash Shepherds Huts. This involves odd bits of Actual Carpentry, with complicated measurements and the like, plus occasional on-the-hoof conferences about seemingly impossible problems such as how to get an 18-foot shepherd’s hut out from between two load-bearing poles that are around half that distance apart, with no manoeuvring space (hint: it involves an approx. million-point turn and quite a lot of swearing).


And, occasionally, a tractor.

Continue reading

Welcome to the real world: What do you do?

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Have you missed me? (I’ve missed you too. N’awwh.) But seriously, if you have, that means you’re a regular reader, which probably also means you’ve been wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life at the moment, a topic I’ve left conspicuously unaddressed since graduating. This blog post is by way of explanation for my semi-absence from the internet, and also by way of a tentative promise for what’s in store soon.            

Throughout my year abroad, and even during my final year of uni, I was astonished at my own perseverance in keeping this blog going, no matter how stressful things got. I’d never claim to have done so with any regularity – I make my own deadlines and assignments, so of course there’s a fair bit of flexibility – but I usually keep it ticking over at one or two posts per month.

It might seem odd, then, that I’ve posted less often since graduating, especially as my activities of late have been considerably less all-encompassing than the final year of a joint honours Oxford degree. Compared to that, I’ve had oodles of time, but time is not really the problem (although, as usual, it still disappears into a mire of Things I Simply Have To Do Right Now such as ‘learn Spanish,’ ‘visit everyone I know’ and ‘spring clean the house’). Neither have I gone quiet for want of interesting events to recount – for goodness’ sake, I recently managed a few hundred words on the subject of being bored on trains. If having nothing of consequence to say could stop me writing, Anglophone would never have existed in the first place. The problem, by process of elimination, has got to be that I’ve developed an extended case of writer’s block. And I think I know why.

Continue reading

The twelve days of Christmas 9: Rural Broadband

As I mentioned the other day, I live in the dead centre of Nowhere. Llangrove is the butt of many jokes about not having electricity, travelling on horseback, etc. etc. Very funny, guys, but the last laugh is on you, because we were among the first areas to get high-speed fibre-optic broadband last year.

The new shiny internet has been going swimmingly at times, but it’s never quite been as fast as promised, and it’s geographically patchy. Superfast broadband hasn’t yet been installed in the pub, so its WiFi operates at near-dialup speeds. At a recent quiz, customers had to be asked to stop looking up a disputed answer because the internet had conked out from everyone using it simultaneously. Another embarrassing moment happened last week, when the card machine stopped working because someone was using the landline in the other room.

Our house has nothing on the pub, but it’s currently difficult to catch up with Christmas TV on iPlayer, because every few minutes an infuriating message about insufficient bandwidth pops up. Uploading these cartoons has also been unusually slow and frustrating, resulting in my computer taking a lot of unearned verbal abuse. It’s almost as if the technology here really hasn’t caught up with the rest of the UK…

Scan 41

My technical knowledge is limited, but rural broadband is definitely either powered this way or by an arthritic sheep on a treadmill somewhere.